The horned man and the ravens
The Horned Man and the Ravens
This image in particular is of interest: It is a drawing of a fragment of tweezers from Ihre Gotland, which appear to depict energy rising from the crown of the head and manifesting as ravens [i.e. Hugin and Munin, Thought and Memory]
Fjolsvinsmal 45 calls them "wise ravens"
- Horskir hrafnar Wise ravens
skulu þér á hám gálga shall tear out your eyes
slíta sjónir úr, on the high gallows,
ef þú það lýgur, if you are lying,
að hér sé langt kominn that from afar has arrived
mögur til minna sala. the youth (Svipdag) to my halls
Commentary: Menglad's threat to Fjolsvith should remove any lingering doubts that he is someone other than Odin. Her response is clearly a triple riddle with one inescapable answer. The word horskir "wise, sagacious" troubled Bugge, who suggested various emendations. However, the word is certainly correct here. There are two ravens in the myth, who can obviously be said to be wise, i.e. Odin's ravens, Huginn (Mind) and Muninn (Memory). They fly every day over the Underworld, gathering knowledge for Odin, whose eyes cannot penetrate thus far (Grímnismál 20). They are his "intelligence" in more than one sense. One of Odin's appellations was Hrafnás, Hrafnagoð, Raven God.
Odin is the God of Gallows. He is Hangagoð, Hangatýr, the Hanged God, who hung for nine nights on the "windswept tree" (Hávamál 138). He is also the one-eyed god, who gave one of his eyes in exchange for wisdom from Mímir's well (Gylfaginning 15, Völuspá 28).
Menglad's riddle is thus fairly transparent: "Wise ravens shall tear out your eyes on the high gallows". All these facts about the Father of the Gods were surely known to the poet's audience, who must have enjoyed the riddle.
"They fly every day over the Underworld, gathering knowledge for Odin, whose eyes cannot penetrate thus far (Grímnismál 20). They are his 'intelligence' in more than one sense."
Since Midgard (JRR Tolkien's 'Middle-Earth) lies in between Asgard and Hel, the disc of the earth blocks the regions below from Odin's view. Because of this, he cannot see what occurs beneath Midgard from his throne in the sky. Thus he must employ the ravens, Hugin and Munin, to spy there. Hugin and Munin, literally 'Thought' and 'Memory' fly over the realm that Mimir rules. They appear to be an extension of Odin's mind, used to gather intelligence from the Otherworld. It is probably no coincidence that Mimir's name derives from a root meaning "memory."
- William P Reaves
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